(Ronald M. Fowler) Published 12:38 p.m. CT Sept. 12, 2017
Donation of game meat to families in need increased again in 2016, with a modest increase in donations by hunters and significant increase in meat donation through the Sportsmen Against Hunger salvage processing program.
Deer hunters continued to show interest in and play an important part in, donation of game meat through SAH to food pantries across the state. Total harvested deer which were donated increased from 348 in 2015, to 397 in 2016. These numbers included 256 antlerless deer in 2016, compared with 204 antlerless deer in 2015. The antlerless deer were donated through the SAH processing certificate program, in which a processing certificate completed and submitted by the hunter to a participating SAH game processor, paid for most or all of the processing cost. The processing certificate program will again be available to hunters in 2017.
The SAH salvage processing program has always been an important program in that funding has been available to pay for processing of salvageable game carcasses provided by the South Dakota Department of Game, Fish & Parks and other game management agencies. This game has included road-kills, confiscated game, euthanized research animals, culled animals from a National Wildlife Refuge and animals taken in city deer reduction programs.
The amount of processed salvaged game meat received a huge boost this past winter when Wind Cave National Park conducted an elk herd reduction program, from which harvested elk were processed and the meat provided to food pantries and other charitable food distributors affiliated with Feeding South Dakota. SAH was one of several funding partners which paid for processing of these salvaged elk.
Sportsmen and sportswomen also donated a variety of other types of game this past year including seven antelope, 1,895 Canada geese, 1,831 pheasants, one buffalo and 237 walleyes. The total amount of processed donated game and fish meat provided to food pantries from all sources, including game meat food drives, increased from 31,512 pounds in 2015 to 48,174 pounds in 2016 and this meat was made available to families in need throughout the state.